"Every year for two decades, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued an annual report on the amount of pesticide residue it detects from samples of fresh fruits and vegetables around the country.
The Environmental Protection Agency uses the data to monitor exposure to pesticides and enforce federal standards designed to protect infants, children and other vulnerable people.
But the 200-page annual report has become a target of an unusual lobbying campaign by the produce industry, which worries that the data are being misinterpreted by the public.
In a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 18 produce trade associations complained that the data have “been subject to misinterpretation by activists, which publicize their distorted findings through national media outlets in a way that is misleading for consumers and can be highly detrimental to the growers of these commodities.”
They are most concerned by “The Dirty Dozen,” an annual list released by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that ranks the fruits and vegetables it says have the most pesticide residue. The group also lists “The Clean Fifteen,” a ranking of produce with the least residue."
Lyndsey Layton reports for the Washington Post May 15, 2011.